I hear a lot of women--especially youngish women--preface some fairly innocuous statement with the semi-apologetic disclaimer, "Not that I'm a feminist, or anything, but..."
I wonder how on earth that happened? How did it come about that women are embarrassed to be identified with an ideological movement committed to promoting women's equality?
A couple of days ago, I had a brief property line skirmish with a new neighbor. The guy has spent I don't even know how many hours with a hundred-foot measuring tape and a ball of twine and a handful of stakes, figuring out the edges of the lot he just bought. His lot sits right against the back of our lot.
The guy measures out his property line again a couple of weeks ago, about the same time I start constructing a dog run behind the house. We visit amiably about where he thinks his property line runs, and I set the fenceline on my side, by several inches. I set the posts in concrete because that's just the right way to set posts. He watches me do this.
A couple of days ago, the guy comes back with his measuring tape and other paraphanalia. Remeasures everything. Decides his line is actually not where he originally marked it. Decides my posts are actually on his property. Tells me so.
The really curious part of all this, though, is that it was so important to Mr. Wonderful that he could perceive himself as being in-the-right, to be justified in his anger, that he actually accused me of going back after he was gone and moving all those posts--posts he'd watched me set in concrete. The total difference? Less than six inches.
Now, I'm an extraordinarily competent woman. I'm not, however, an idiot. Nor am I an amazon. I'm pretty sure I would need a tractor to pull those posts out of the ground.
At this point in the conversation, I made a strategic error. I laughed at him. Then I might have, sort of, maybe accidentally, presented a logical false dilemma suggesting he was either a lunatic, or just not the brightest crayon in the box. I briefly considered asking him if this meant I was off the hook and he was going to finish building the fence--but was stopped by the purplish hue of his face and the veins bulging from his temples.
He demanded I move the posts the four or five inches, to comply with his newly-measured property line. I responded that he was welcome to solve the problem either by calling an actual surveyor, and presenting me with a legal property boundary--or he was welcome to pull the damn posts himself--I'd be happy to compromise and reset them, should he choose either option.
Actually, I may not have been quite that polite about it.
He opted to pull the posts himself. It was frankly a bit alarming. He started flinging himself against the posts to loosen them. The guy was literally running at these big posts, slamming his body into them, grunting and all but foaming at the mouth. I didn't stick around to watch him heave them out of the ground with fifty pounds of concrete clinging to each base.
My housemate managed to smooth it over, at least a bit. Much later.
She informed me that I could have handled the situation in a more calming manner. That seemed completely ridiculous, to me. Maybe that guy's poor wife has to calm his almighty temper, but frankly, I could friggin' care less if he strokes himself out having a tantrum like a two-year-old. She told me, "That's just how men are. You're not straight, so you've never really had to deal with it. But that's pretty much just how men are. Women learn to deal with it."
First of all, I honestly do not believe that's how all men are. Then I started thinking about a comment I would have sworn Kira left--but now I can't find it--to the effect that women engage in calming and affirming behavior towards inferior men, as a sort of culturally programmed response, to keep the peace.
The problem is, when bad behavior is rewarded with that kind of attention, it only reinforces the bad behavior. Why the hell would women want to participate in that crap? That brings us around full-circle, to the beginning thought: why do so many women reject a feminist identification?
Perhaps someone can explain this to me...